Bed Bath & Beyond facing shareholder pressure behind the scenes
Wells Fargo & Co (NYSE:WFC) is saying language in Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ:BBBY)’s last proxy filing, coupled with co-chairmen Warren Eisenberg and Leonard Feinstein amending their employment agreements, suggest that the retailer could be facing shareholder pressure behind the scenes. Wells is reported to believe Bed Bath could issue $1B-$1.5B in senior unsecured notes with plans to use the proceeds for a buyback. Wells Fargo firm has a Market Perform rating on the stock, which is currently trading just above $60 per share.
Bloomberg is more definitive and is citing a Standard and Poors report which says the retailer is planning on selling $1.5 billion in bonds. The offering is said to include 10-, 20-, and 30-year maturities, the report says, as the ratings on the company increased to A- from BBB+. Bed Bath & Beyond is also seeking a $250 million revolving line of credit, according to the report.
But analysts have their issues. “All seems well at Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ:BBBY). New stores are opening, older stores are being refreshed, with personal care items being sold in the front of the store resembling a CVS Caremark Corporation (NYSE:CVS), Walgreen Company (NYSE:WAG)’s or Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) store,” noted Brian Sozzi, CEO of Bellus Capital Advisors and analyst at TheStreet. “However, digging beneath the crust one can easily see a host of worrying issues.”
Sozzi: Worrying concerns for Bed Bath & Beyond shareholders
Sozzi, who called for an activist investor to intercede last month, said there are three worrying concerns for shareholders.
The first concern is there is no Q&A session with stock analysis’s post earnings. “Troublesome as the company has stepped up investments in tech, infrastructure and new stores,” he said. “With the financial performance of the company deteriorating analyst questions on earnings call are crucial to getting an accurate picture of the business.”
Another issue is that there are no quarterly or annual breakdowns on the company’s business segments. Should Bed, Bath & Beyond be operating a store called “The Christmas Shop” year round? “Who knows?” Sozzi says. “The trends of the business are not being shared.”
Lastly the company’s co-founders continue to serve in co-chairman capacities. Overseeing a CEO who has been at the helm since 2003, and with significant upheaval underway in retail, with mobile shopping and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN)’s expansive selection of general merchandise, Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ:BBBY) continues to push forward with the opening of new, giant stores, a concern. “The reluctance to slow things down in the face of weakening operating results is very disturbing,” he said.
“Carl Icahn, here is your next target.”